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Invention and innovation: an introduction


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This unit aims to provide an understanding of invention, design, innovation and diffusion as ongoing processes with a range of factors affecting success at each stage. You will gain an understanding of the factors that motivate individuals and organisations to invent, and the creative process by which individuals come up with ideas for new inventions and designs, and you will gain an understanding of the obstacles that have to be overcome to bring an invention to market and the factors that influence the successful diffusion of an innovation into widespread use.

In Part 1 I invite you to look around at the technological products in your home or at work and consider their development history and their impact on the lives of you and your family. I then define the key concepts associated with the process of invention, design, innovation and diffusion.

Part 2 considers what motivates individuals and organisations to invent in the first place and how individuals come up with ideas for new designs and inventions.

Part 3 examines how technical, financial and organisational obstacles have to be overcome in order to bring an invention to the market. Once on the market a number of factors influence how well an innovation will sell.

This study unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course T307 Innovation: designing for a sustainable future, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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